“We need to start with the objective of the Green Deal”

Let’s face it: the Green Deal has got off to a really awful start. Some of the systems were not in place when it launched. The launch itself was rather low-key. Some assessments have been done, and some work has flowed from these, but the Green Deal as a financial mechanism has not proved popular. Householders have not embraced the ‘Golden Rule’ or the payment approach through future energy bills.

The scheme is a clever idea. It is the right direction of travel, but it is over-engineered, clunky and poorly understood and undersold. For the protection of householders, the accreditation and formal process points are important, but the end result is a cost and repayment scheme that feels unsupportable. We can’t go backwards, but we do need an urgent rethink about how we present the Green Deal, how we incentivise people to adopt it, and how it is marketed.

Presentation is about explaining the repayment process, and describing the Golden Rule. Incentives are about the add-ons, such as stamp duty reductions on houses sold with a Green Deal scheme in place. Marketing is about using the messaging opportunities of say the tariff reform process, or the Winter Fuel Payment advisory letters, to give information.

The Green Deal is for everybody. But we need to start with selling the objective – reducing energy bills – rather than selling the programme. ‘How can I reduce my energy bills, and still keep properly warm?’ is the question people want answers to.

Mervyn Kohler, special adviser, Age UK